Some Edible Flowers

Eating Edible Flowers

The culinary use of edible flowers is not a recent trend; it can be traced back thousands of years to the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. Flowers were traditionally incorporated into many various cuisines –from Asian and East Indian to European, Victorian English, and Middle Eastern. Think of the lush rose petals in Indian food and the bright squash blossoms in the Italian meals.

Edible flowers fell out of grace, but they are making a huge come-back, not only as a fancy garnish, but also as an effective seasoning. Of course, flowers are not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to cooking. The secret is to learn to pick the right ones and to combine them properly with other ingredients.

The buds and blooms of different plants offer a wide range of flavour, colour, and a tinge of whimsy. Some are irresistibly fragrant and tasty, others are spicy and sharp. Some are lemony or weedy while others are floral or herbaceous. The rich palette of taste and colour make edible flowers a perfect addition to almost every dish. Spruce up the regular meal with these surprisingly delicious blooms.

Not All Flowers Are Edible

Not every flower that you have in your garden is edible. Even though the buds may not be poisonous, they don’t all taste good! Luckily, most of the blooms of fruits, veggies, and herbs work just as great as their fully-grown counterparts.  It’s advisable to consume only plants that have been grown without pesticides or with such that are suitable for edible crops. If you buy flowers from expert gardeners, a nursery or garden centres, check to see if they are labelled as edible. Make sure you are not allergic to a certain type of plant before you use it. That said, here are a couple of tips on how to harvest and store your edible flowers.

  • Pick the blooms and buds just before you use them for the best flavour
  • Harvest during the cool of the day, after the dew evaporates
  • Brush off any soil and remove any insects hiding within
  • Wash the flowers gently and let them air-dry over a paper towel
  • If not used right away, keep them in the fridge for no longer than 10 days
  • They can be dried, frozen or preserved in vinegar or oil

Some Flowers You Can Grow and Eat

You can choose from a variety of annuals, biennials, and perennials that will look gorgeous in your garden and will add unique taste to your meals. Planting some of these flowers can introduce benefits both to your garden and your cooking routine. If you are looking for your next gardening projects, here are a couple of ideas you might want to consider:


nasturtium flower

There are many reasons to consider planting nasturtium in your garden. These vibrant and versatile annuals serve a double duty – as an exquisite culinary delight and as a natural pest control. The sun-loving greenery will bloom from midsummer until the first frost. Its peppery tasting flowers can be added to fresh salads or used in your favourite pesto recipe. You can also skip the mustard, and stuff the spicy petals into your sandwiches with creamy cheese and sliced tomatoes.

Squash Blossoms

male squash blossom flower

These are probably some of the most widely used edible flowers, especially in the Italian cuisine. Squash blossoms are the flowers of the late-season pumpkins, zucchini, summer squash, and winter squash. The orange and yellow buds can be used raw in a salad or stuffed with cheese. They taste like a more delicate version of squash and can be fried or cooked with creamy rice.


Dill Flower

Dill offers remarkable benefits for both your health and your garden. It contains enzymes that help reduce the free radicals and carcinogens in the human body. Plus it prevents bone loss and has anti-bacterial properties. According to the gardening experts, the blossoms can attract pollinators and beneficial insects into your backyard. The flowers have light dill flavour and are usually added to jars with cucumber pickles.

Chives Blossoms

Chive flower

Chives don’t require any garden maintenance or efforts. Your site is probably filled with these lavender-pink flowers, so why not try them out? Toss them in a fresh salad, add them in a casserole, or cook them with fresh vegetables. Their taste resembles onions so don’t use too many of these pungent flowers.


african violet flower

Viola odorata or sweet violet is an all time classic when it comes to cooking with edible flowers. It was a favourite treat of English royalty and a popular ingredient during the Victorian era. The taste of this flower pairs well with lemon and chocolate. You can use it in different recipes – from crèmes and desserts to tarts and salads.  Violets can be quite challenging when it comes to cooking, because you will need a lot of them to extract enough flavour.


Olive Oil is Perfect for Frying

Olive oil is the healthiest choice when it comes to frying food, study finds

(NaturalNews) A new study published October 22 reinforces once again that olive oil is one of the best oils for cooking compared to other seed oils. Researchers based their conclusion on a few different factors, including nutritional content and the oil’s ability to maintain quality under high temperatures.

Published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists note that various oils have different physical, chemical and nutritional properties that can be degraded under high heat and repeated use.

Many cooking oils can become impaired while heating in the pan or frying, and the food that you’re cooking can actually also lose its nutritional content, making your choice of oil critical for producing a healthy dish.

Mohamed Bouaziz, one of the study’s authors, and his colleagues say that when some oils are heated to certain temperatures they can change form and create new compounds that are potentially toxic to consume. These byproducts contribute to the reduction of the food’s nutritional content.

Olive oil withstands high temps, maintaining its impeccable, healthy qualities, scientists say

“The researchers deep- and pan-fried raw potato pieces in four different refined oils — olive, corn, soybean and sunflower — and reused the oil 10 times.

“They found that olive oil was the most stable oil for deep-frying at 320 and 374 degrees Fahrenheit, while sunflower oil degraded the fastest when pan-fried at 356 degrees,” stated the ACS press release.

“They conclude that for frying foods, olive oil maintains quality and nutrition better than seed oils.” Olive oil is one of those ancient gems of a food that has been around for centuries, particularly in the Mediterranean.

The best type to use is “virgin” or “extra virgin” olive oil, as fewer chemicals have been used for extraction. The more chemicals involved in extracting the oil from olives, the more it loses its nutritional value, according to a Natural News report published last May on the oil’s benefits.

“True virgin olive oil has an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. Because it is derived directly from the fruit of the plant, it also helps with digestion.”

Olive oil extremely useful in treating a variety of ailments, studies find

The health benefits don’t stop there.

Oleocanthal, the phytonutrient in olive oil, actually mimics the effect of ibuprofen in that it reduces inflammation and can decrease women’s risk of developing breast cancer and its recurrence, according to the Olive Oil Times.

Scientists are also studying other compounds found in the ancient oil including squalene and lignans, which could possibly help fight cancer. Olive oil is rumored to reduce the risk for heart disease, as it lowers the body’s levels of total blood cholesterol. Regular consumption may decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, scientists say.

One “prominent cardiologist” recommends consuming up to two tablespoons a day to fully enjoy the oil’s various benefits, reports the Olive Oil Times.

“Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.

“A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.”

Older individuals who consume olive oil daily are better protected against having a stroke, according to a recent study conducted in France and published in the online issue of Neurology. The “intensive” consumers of olive oil experienced 41 percent fewer strokes compared to those that didn’t use the oil at all.

On Coconut Oil

Why You Should Switch to Cooking with Coconut Oil

22nd April 2013

By Lissa Butler

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil is a great oil to keep in your home. Not only is it a healthy oil to cook and bake with (perhaps even the healthiest), it is a worthwhile addition to a beauty regimen for men and women alike.

How Coconut Oil Is Made

Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or the meat of the coconut, which is harvested from the coconut palm tree, Cocos nucifera. One way of extracting coconut oil for mass production is by pressing it out of copra, or dried kernel, via a method known as RBD, which stands for “refined, bleached and deodorized.” This method involves chemical solvents that result in a higher oil yield. It is quicker and cheaper to manufacture coconut oil this way, and the final product can be sold at a cheaper price. However, this method often leads to hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation of the oil and the presence of trans-fatty acids, as well as the removal of beneficial fatty acids.

Another way of extracting coconut oil from the copra is with the old extraction method of physical or mechanical refining. This method does not involve solvents or lead to hydrogenation and trans-fatty acids. The oil is still refined, but without the use of solvents and several stages of processing to render the end result. Furthermore, this older method of extraction leaves the coconut oil with its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) intact. Both refining methods remove the coconut scent and flavor from the final product. Coconut oil extracted via the older method is often labeled “expeller pressed coconut oil.” The RBD coconut oil is labeled as simply “coconut oil.”

The Virgin Coconut Oil Difference

The third way of extracting coconut oil is from the fresh flesh. This coconut oil is known as “virgin coconut oil.” Don’t be confused, like I was, if you find extra virgin coconut oil at the market. Extra virgin coconut oil and virgin coconut oil are one-and-the-same. There currently are no industry standards that differentiate one from the other. The term “extra virgin” is borrowed from the olive oil industry.

The process for extracting virgin coconut oil requires very little heat and no solvents. This coconut oil is made from the first pressing of fresh coconut flesh, leaving the medium-chain fatty acids, nutrients, mild coconut flavor and smell intact. If you like the taste and smell of coconut oil, virgin (or extra virgin) coconut oil is worth selecting because it contains more nutrients and has more health benefits than refined coconut oil.

The Many Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

The health benefits of coconut oil run the gamut. One of the reasons you should cook or bake with coconut oil is that it has a high saturated fat content. You can use it to cook at high temperatures and even leave it at room temperature for months without it going rancid. It is an extremely stable oil. The medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil are a wonderful source of energy for the body. MCFAs help raise metabolism, which can help you maintain a healthy weight or even lead to weight loss when combined with exercise and a healthy diet.

What makes coconut oil so unique is that it contains at least 40% lauric acid, the major medium-chain fatty acid also found in human mother’s milk. Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body and provides the body with antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-protazoal benefits. That is one of the reasons why breast milk is the best source of food for infants and coconut oil is a great food for everyone else. It protects against viral, bacterial and protazoal infections.

Coconut oil has also been shown to help support thyroid health and potentially reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, weight gain and water retention. This is because coconut oil does not oxidize in the body. Rather, it acts as an energy source, raises basal body temperature and does not require additional enzymes to help break it down since your body recognizes the fatty acids it contains. This allows the thyroid hormones T4 to convert to T3 more effectively.

As for digestion, people with IBS, Crohn’s disease or sensitive digestion find that they do well on coconut oil. This is because the MCFAs help the intestines absorb much needed nutrients. This improved nutrient absorption facilitates healing of the digestive system and the person.

And it doesn’t stop there. Coconut oil has been shown to be effective in cases of candida, high cholesterol, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and chronic fatigue. Topically, coconut oil has been used for centuries to help nourish and health the skin and hair. Whether you have dry skin or hair, or a yeast or fungal infection, research and anecdotal evidence has shown that coconut oil can help with such problems. Coconut oil easily penetrates the skin and hair, getting down to the dermis and hair shaft, leading to healing of the skin and hair.

If using coconut oil is of interest to you, go to your natural food market and look for virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. If you prefer ordering online, Tropical Traditions is a good resource. They also sell skin care products that contain virgin coconut oil. I make a nourishing skin cream that contains virgin coconut oil which is available on my website. Using coconut oil directly on the skin works wonderfully too. The only caveat is that you will likely have to reapply throughout the day, because of how quickly it is absorbed into the skin.


Chemistry of Cooking

Chemistry Of Cooking
A Biochemist Explains The Chemistry Of Cooking

January 1, 2009 — A biochemist and cook explains that cooking is all about chemistry and knowing some facts can help chefs understand why recipes go wrong. Because cooking is essentially a series of chemical reactions, it is helpful to know some basics. For example, plunging asparagus into boiling water causes the cells to pop and result in a brighter green. Longer cooking, however, causes the plant’s cell walls to shrink and releases an acid. This turns the asparagus an unappetizing shade of grey.

You love to cook, but have you whipped up some disasters? Even the best recipes can sometimes go terribly wrong. A nationally recognized scientist and chef says knowing a little chemistry could help.

Long before she was a cook, Shirley Corriher was a biochemist. She says science is the key to understanding what goes right and wrong in the kitchen.

“Cooking is chemistry,” said Corriher. “It’s essentially chemical reactions.”

This kind of chemistry happens when you put chopped red cabbage into a hot pan. Heat breaks down the red anthocyanine pigment, changing it from an acid to alkaline and causing the color change. Add some vinegar to increase the acidity, and the cabbage is red again. Baking soda will change it back to blue.

Cooking vegetables like asparagus causes a different kind of reaction when tiny air cells on the surface hit boiling water.

“If we plunge them into boiling water, we pop these cells, and they suddenly become much brighter green,” Corriher said.

Longer cooking is not so good. It causes the plant’s cell walls to shrink and release acid.

“So as it starts gushing out of the cells, and with acid in the water, it turns cooked green vegetables into [a] yucky army drab,” Corriher said.

And that pretty fruit bowl on your counter? “Literally, overnight you can go from [a] nice green banana to an overripe banana,” Corriher said.

The culprit here is ethylene gas. Given off by apples and even the bananas themselves, it can ruin your perfect fruit bowl — but put an apple in a paper bag with an unripe avocado, and ethylene gas will work for you overnight.

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